It’s time to ponder and write down my New Year resolutions. We’re in the middle of summer, five whole months more to go! But the ‘’personal’’ year – analogical to ‘’fiscal’’ year – begins in fall for me. Why fall? Probably because my working tempo is relatively slow during summer, no lectures in the medical school, no conferences to attend and talk, only the routine job I do – that is, attending physician in infectious diseases.
I like to itemize what I believe I must accomplish for the coming year, a typical attitude one would expect from a disciplined personality. If you believe in signs, here is the proof: I am a Capricorn. I possess most of the characteristics of a Capricorn, i.e. perseverance, hardworking and meticulous preplanning, blended with some from my rising sign, Taurus. Well, I don’t take the signs very seriously but do enjoy reading as if a game of finding hidden objects.
This process of ‘’to-do’’ listing has certain rituals. First, I dig my computer for the previous year’s note, read it slowly, with a smile as I mark the tasks I’ve succeeded, but narrowing my eyes and frowning when I come across the ‘’still-troublesome’’ items. Then, I make a quick summary and set the new goals. We will do it together this year, dear Reader. We will do it right now! Here we go!
Unfortunately, I have a confession to make: I just checked all my notes but found none for last year, that is, for 2012. Then I remembered that I didn’t write any because there was no additional task to do last year; 2012 would be a continuation of 2011, a transitory period in my growth. Therefore, my point of reference will be the note for 2011:
‘’ BEFORE 2011
Another year is about to pass. What makes the start of the New Year unique? Dividing the time into years, months and days enables us interact and communicate properly. We need them. Besides, it’s useful to have certain time points which mark the end of a certain period and the beginning of a new one to look back and see how much we accomplished in terms of personal improvement within that given time frame.
I just read my ‘’New Year Resolutions’’ that I wrote last year. It’s amazing to see how much I’ve traveled since then.
Here is the last year’s note (that is, for the year 2010):
1. Don’t give without getting.
2. Value them as much as they deserve.
3. Regular workout
4. Writing, writing, writing
5. Be my best friend.
6. Learn meditation
7. Protect yourself.
More than half of the year has passed, and I can see I need to work more on some. I did accomplish certain ones, i.e. number 4, 5 and 7. I neglected regular workout because of knee problems and I must to start soon. As for No. 1 and 2, I failed. I should stop giving too much without getting anything or valuing them more than they deserve. This requires more intervention of my mind in heart’s matters and some stonifying of the heart. By the end of this year, I plan to be as I see myself. Sorry for those who might find me more rigid or emotionless or even a little unkind. I need this to protect myself .’’
This was my note for 2010. The main idea behind all was to be ‘’happier’’ than I was. At that time, I believed what made me unhappy was not getting enough compared to what I gave to others. And the only rational solution appeared to be adopting a ‘more rigid, and ‘’less giving’’ attitude. Balance in personal relationships was my main concern.
Did I accomplish my resolutions of last year? My point of reference changed meanwhile, making some of them irrelevant such as the first item: ‘’Don’t give without getting’’. This was a temporary remedy for the suffering I was going through because of getting hurt in human relations – a reactive response to the state I was in then. I had lost my faith in men and true friendship after being hurt deeply by someone I considered to be my ‘’true friend’’. This was the second time in my life that I felt so betrayed. I believed this happened because I was naïve and 100 percent honest and open. Once you open your heart and soul to someone, you become vulnerable, because you are ‘’naked’’ with no armor around you, not even proper clothing to protect you. Withdrawal is the first reaction to pain and suffering.
Now I smile at that ‘’immature’’ woman who was crying out for love at first, then decided to close her heart completely. What happened last year that made me grow ‘’wiser’’?
Those were the growing pains. I was challenged with high ebbs and tides, almost gulped in an endless abyss. I had a couple of true friends who were with me in the ups and downs with no other concerns but my wellbeing. There were a few whom I shared the depth of my soul, some I inadvertently hurt with my reckless attitude because I felt rejected. Thank you for riding with me. Thank you for extending your hand whenever I needed.
The last two months have been pretty busy for my personal improvement. I’ve been reading a lot, practicing meditation, and finally I found my answer to that crucial question: ‘’Is it possible to love with truly NO expectations?’’ Now I can answer: IT IS! This is the very basis for happiness! Equipped with a new understanding of life, the world unfolds with all its miraculous beauty before me.
And what is the magical key that enabled this transformation? A simple principle I managed to put into practice: ‘’Living Here and Now, and enjoying what life brings with no attachment’’. This liberated me, and thus, my beloved ones from the chains I inadvertently put around them with my expectations. And it helped me gain control of the strong emotions that consumed me. I am no longer afraid of being alone – not even when I grow old. I don’t need a ‘’special’’ person in my life, because I have everything. ‘’
I suppose it’s now clear to you that the major bulk of my transformation has already been complete by then; only some smoothing and polishing needed here and there. Those 7 items are no longer relevant except for only one.
My to-do list for 2013 is much simpler:
- Write regularly.
- Mindfulness in each step.
This short list will probably be active not only for 2013, but as long as I continue to breathe, think, and feel. These two are the keys that opened the colossal gate before the magnificent garden I’ve been peeking in throughout my lifetime, the main leverage for happiness and joy in my life, the two wings of my freedom to fly…
Dear Reader, thank you for your help with my New Year list. We did a good job! It wasn’t as difficult as it first sounded, was it? Nevertheless, we both deserve a bar of chocolate! I wouldn’t object to a glass of fine red wine, too. I hope you don’t mind if I accompany you with the chocolate and a cup of fresh brewed coffee.